It would seem someone in the Republican part has received the real message that was sent in the 2006 elections:
It's important for us to realize we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. But it's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country.
The pity of it is that those are the words of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who's name has previously been mentioned in connection with a possible Presidential run. While his conservative credentials are pretty good (even though I disagree with him on a few things), he stands exactly a zero chance of getting elected even if he changes his mind and decides to run--at least any time in the near future. His brother has pretty well seen to that. Smart fellow that he is, he has realized that and is not wasting his time trying.
As you might imagine, I move in a fairly conservative circle. While we all don't agree, if you took all my close friends and associates as a group, we lean way to the right/conservative/whatever you want to call it end of the political spectrum. Also as you might expect, the subject of "OK, we got our butts kicked, so where do we go from here?" has come up--a lot.
One thing we pretty much agree on is that there isn't a candidate who has announced for President who really seems all that good. We're ambivalent to the lot of them.
My personal philosophy is that if a candidate is friendly to the Second Amendment, then that candidate is likely to have a pretty good stand on most Constitutional issues, and is pretty likely to be a fiscal conservative. Those are pretty much my litmus tests for supporting someone who is running for office.
Kim du Toit has a post, drawn from work by Dave Kopel, that summarizes all announced candidates' stance on our right to keep and bear arms. Allow me to summarize the summary--the only candidates that are worthy of consideration based on that criteria and my philosophy are:
Ron Paul (R-ish)
Sam Brownback (R)
Duncan Hunter (R)
Jim Gilmore (R)
Mike Huckabee (R)
Tom Tancredo (R)
Tommy Thompson (R)
Bill Richardson (D)
Newt Gingrich (R)
Chuck Hagel (R)
I've looked at all of these guys, and while most of them are probably more conservative that any president since Reagan, I can't get warm and/or fuzzy about any of them. I'm unconvinced that any of them are truly principled conservatives.
Bill Richardson is out based on his membership in the Democrat party and the fact that he was Comrade Clinton's Energy Secretary. 'Nuff said.
Ron Paul is out because he's a Libertarian, not a libertarian. I don't do open borders. Good fences make good neighbors, as the old saying goes.
Newt Gingrich and Tom Tancredo are unelectable as things currently stand. That's a pity, since both men might actually make a decent President, if they could tone down their rhetoric enough that Joe Average would listen to them for a minute.
All the rest are pretty much career politicians. While that doesn't automatically rule them out (Hey, experience in politics is a necessary factor for the job.), it doesn't endear them to me, either. I'm afraid that a system such as ours is becoming will eventually compromise them, if it hasn't already. Since it seems to me we desperately need a man or woman of principle, I just don't know if I feel they can be trusted to do the right thing at a time in our history when it seems imperative that we don't make more mistakes.
So having said that, I know that you're going to be asking "OK, smart guy, so who should we vote for?" Yes, I know my readers... :-)
I've always been partial to Fred Thompson. He's electable, he's friendly to the Second Amendment and to conservative principles in general (although I'll note he isn't perfect). He's had his moments (such as supporting John McCain), but the man does seem to be a fairly principled man of conservative bent.
Will he run? Probably not. He seems to have pretty much retired from political life to continue his career as an actor. But perhaps he could still be prevailed upon. And face it--the last actor we had as President did a pretty good job.